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Pragmatic Theology and the Natural Sciences at the Intersection of Human Interests

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This paper elicits a twentieth-century American story that is deeply rooted in the legacy of American philosophical pragmatism, its impact on a particular school, and its reconstruction of American theology. The paper focuses on three generations of American theologians, and it centers on how these theologians reconstruct theology in light of the science of their day and how they maintain a true plurality of insights about human life in the world. The pragmatic theologian regards the creative exchange between theology and natural science as an opportunity for renewing our understanding of religious life and appreciating the various commitments of scientists and theologians as they meet at the juncture of human interests. The first voice is that of the early Chicago School of Theology represented by Shailer Mathews, Gerald Birney Smith, and George Burman Foster. The second voice is that of Henry Nelson Wieman, a second-generation theologian at Chicago. The final theologian discussed is James M. Gustafson, former Professor of Theological Ethics at Chicago.
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Keywords: American pragmatism; Chicago School of Theology; human interests; pragmatic theology; theology and empirical sciences; vitalist theory of Christian theology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Christian Ethics at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, USA

Publication date: 2002-03-01

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